October 24, 2020

Jobs, N.Y.C. Schools, Ella Fitzgerald: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

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Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

1. Layoffs in the U.S. are growing as companies signal new anxiety about the course of the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty about further legislative relief.

Two major airlines, the insurance giant Allstate, Disney and a major book publisher have in recent days cumulatively announced plans to fire or furlough more than 60,000 workers, and more cuts are expected if Congress cannot agree on a new aid package to stimulate the economy.

Talks between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are the latest in a series of last-ditch negotiations. Democrats are pushing a new $2.2 trillion plan unveiled this week while the White House has floated a $1.6 trillion plan.

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that 787,000 Americans filed for state unemployment benefits for the first time last week. It was a decline from the previous week’s total, but that is little solace as employers continue to cut jobs at a rate that dwarfs other recent downturns.

Credit…Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

2. A small but crucial segment of likely voters say they remain uncommitted — whether it’s to a specific presidential candidate or to voting at all. Tuesday’s debate did not help change their minds.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

3. Senate Democrats are hanging their argument against Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court on preserving the Affordable Care Act.

Today, Democrats forced a largely symbolic Senate vote to bar the Trump administration from continuing its litigation to overturn the health care law. They fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed, but the effort reflects their emerging strategy for the intensifying election-season confirmation fight over Judge Barrett, who they argue could cast a deciding vote to strike down the law.

We also learned today that Judge Barrett, President Trump’s conservative nominee, signed a newspaper ad in 2006 that supported overturning “the barbaric legacy” of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision establishing the right to abortion.

Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

4. Despite a coronavirus virus uptick, New York City reached a major milestone: All of its public schools are open for in-person learning, the first major U.S. city. to do so.

Middle and high school students returned to their classrooms for the first time since March, following those in younger grades who started earlier this week. The city’s final phase of reopening classrooms was a hopeful sign for the country’s unsteady effort to resume in-person instruction.

Schools in Miami-Dade County in Florida are set to reopen on Monday. Houston, San Diego, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., are planning to bring at least some students back into classrooms later this month.

In other coronavirus news, the technology for spit tests is not panning out as some have hoped. Two companies pursuing rapid at-home coronavirus tests have abandoned efforts to use saliva in their products.

Credit…Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

5. For more than a century, Rio de Janeiro’s carnival has been an irrepressible force, carrying on through war, disease and political turmoil. But 2020 got the best of it.

The official carnival parade has been suspended indefinitely because of the pandemic. Brazil faces a death toll of more than 142,000 people from the coronavirus — a toll second only to the U.S. — a deep economic crisis and rampant government corruption. Now Rio residents are being deprived of the moment of catharsis many look forward to year-round.

And in Russia, residents were urged to return to normal life. But President Vladimir Putin inhabits a virus-free bubble — including outfitting his residence with a tunnel that douses people in disinfectant — and rarely leaves home. The number of daily reported new cases in Moscow tripled to more than 2,300 in the past two weeks.


Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

6. The Red Cross has provided 807,454 nights of shelter to Americans this year, more than at any point on record. Above, an evacuation center in Vacaville, Calif., in August.

The number far surpasses 2017’s end-of-year total of 658,000. The surge reflects the growing toll of climate change, as the country has staggered from disaster to disaster. “This is an exceptional year,” a Red Cross official said. “And we’re not even close to done.”

Forecasters and fire officials warned that strong, dry gusts could worsen the Glass Fire in California’s Napa and Sonoma Counties. The fire has already burned more than 50,000 acres. We’re tracking the fires out West here.


Credit…Miranda Barnes for The New York Times

7. “It’s not fair that now I have to say, ‘It’s OK to be Black and hyper and giddy,’ that it’s not a crime to smile.”

That’s Zulayka McKinstry, above, whose daughter’s school principal decided that her 12-year-old daughter’s behavior was suspicious. She was sent to the nurse’s office and forced to undress so that she could be searched for contraband that did not exist.

Credit…Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

8. The N.F.L. had time to plan for playing in a pandemic. Teams took risks anyway, the consequences of which are now being felt.

A spate of infections in the Titans’ clubhouse forced the league to indefinitely postpone the team’s game against the Steelers and brace for more consequences. Among other concerns is the fairness of added games later in the season.

In baseball, the cardboard cutouts that have filled empty stadiums will be replaced with real fans for the National League Championship Series and the World Series. Both series will be held in Texas. The American League Championship Series will be played in San Diego, but the league could not get approval from California to sell tickets there.

In the N.B.A., the Lakers fell into a deficit early but fought back with a string of 3-pointers to beat the Heat, who were hobbled by injuries. Here’s how the Lakers came out on top of Game 1.

Credit…Andrea Morini/Screen Gems

9. The history of Latinos in the U.S. is long, winding and impossible to dissect in simple terms. But a new generation of storytellers and actors are creating work that defines the community’s own Hollywood canon.

The film critic Carlos Aguilar assembled a list of 20 essential films released since the year 2000 that focus on characters with an American identity and Latino heritage, including “Dolores,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Girlfight,” starring Michelle Rodriguez, above, and “Tortilla Soup.” He asked Latino actors and filmmakers to share when they first felt seen onscreen.

We also got a first look at the new Netflix adaptation of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” the August Wilson play. Viola Davis delivers a star turn opposite Chadwick Boseman, in what turned out to be his final film.


Credit…Harry Croner/Ullstein Bild, via Getty Images

10. And finally, new music from Ella Fitzgerald.

The singer’s concert recordings have always had a power that her studio outings could only imply, our jazz critic Giovanni Russonello writes. Of those live albums, few made a longer-lasting impression than “Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin,” from 1960, widely considered one of her greatest performances. This week, the pleasure grows.

On Friday, her record label will release “Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes,” which was recorded at a 1962 concert. Her manager had stashed away the recordings and they were uncovered earlier this year. The new tapes, Giovanni writes, magnify her legacy.

Happy listening.


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